The World Bank has reported that Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and other sub-Saharan African countries raised over $17 billion from bond issuances in 2018. This was described as a landmark development by the global development bank.
This information is contained in a report titled “Africa Pulse”, which was produced by the Office of the Chief Economist for the African Region at The World Bank. The report was recently released during The World Bank‘s joint spring meeting with the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC.
During the meeting, The World bank revealed that over $17 billion had been raised from bonds by sub-Saharan African countries. The World Bank and the IMF also warned these countries to be mindful of their increasing debt vulnerabilities.
2018 marked a record year for international bond issuances: According to The World Bank, 2018 marked a record year for international bond issuances in Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2013 and 2017, countries in the region (excluding upper-middle-income countries) issued, on average, a total of $4.5 billion per year, with an average issuance size of $1 billion.
The World Bank went further to disclose that in 2018, bond issuances totalled more than $17 billion, with the average issuance rising to nearly $3 billion.
In addition to the increase in issuance volumes, several countries (including Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Kenya) were able to extend maturities to 30 years.
Nigeria received over $9.5bn for its $2.86bn Eurobond: The Federal Government of Nigeria, in November 2018, said it received a combined offer of over $9.5 billion for its $2.86 billion Eurobond. The bond represents Nigeria’s sixth Eurobond issuance, following issuances in 2011, 2013, two in 2017 and one in early 2018 and its first triple-tranche offering.
In addition, the Ministry of Finance noted that the offer comprised of $1.18 billion seven-year series, $1 billion 12-year series and a $750 million 30-year series.
It also mentioned that the Government intends to use the proceeds of the bond to fund its fiscal deficit and other financing needs.
Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of fiance, also stated during a ministerial briefing at the World Bank/IMF spring meetings that Nigeria will issue N15 billion green bond later in the year after successfully raising N10.92 billion in December 2018.
Nigerian bond market is attractive to investors: According to CBN‘s Godwin Emefiele, Nigeria attracted bonds worth $6 billion after the elections, a sign that the Nigerian bond market remains attractive to investors.
He continued that following the successful conduct of the general elections in February 2019, over $6bn has come into the local bond market, indicating continued confidence in the strength of the Nigerian economy by investors.
He further added that Nigeria’s bond has continued to top the chart due to the stability of the Investors and Exporters’ FX Window rate and the yields being high by emerging-market standards.
Things might get worse if proceeds are not probably managed: In as much as things are moving on well now for many African countries regarding their bond issuances, The World Bank had warned sub-Saharan African countries of increasing debt levels and its attendant vulnerabilities.
According to the Africa’s Pulse reports, as of end-2018, nearly half of the countries in sub-Saharan African covered under the Low-Income Country Debt Sustainability Framework were at high risk of debt distress or in debt distress, more than double the number in 2013. In addition, safety margins have decreased in several countries rated as at moderate risk of debt distress.
During the Global Financial Stability Report at the spring meetings, the Financial Counsellor and Director, Monetary and Capital Markets Department, IMF, Tobias Adrian said;
“Nigeria has been borrowing in international markets but we worry. So, on the one hand, that is very good because it allows Nigeria to invest more; but on the other hand, we do worry about rollover risks going forward.
“At the moment, funding conditions in economies such as Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries are very favourable but that might change at some point. And there is a risk of rollovers and there is the risk of whether these needs for refinancing can be met in the future.”
The finance minister said there was no cause for alarm, since the country’s total debt profile as of December 31, 2018, stood at N24.387 trillion.
CITN issues rejoinder to ICAN’s claim over court case
The rebuttal claims that there are some ‘critical misinterpretations’ contained in ICAN’s claims concerning the judgment.
The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has issued a rebuttal to the “critical misrepresentations” that are supposedly contained in a notice to members sent out by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) over a court case, as reported by Nairametrics.
Recall that ICAN had informed its members that Justice S. A. Onigbanjo of the High Court of Lagos State ruled in their favour by striking out “Suit No. LD/3288GCM/19 – CITN VS ICAN” which was filed by CITN. In the suit, CITN had, among other things, prayed the court to restrain ICAN members from filing tax returns with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) unless they have a CITN license.
CITN’s position: Now, in its rebuttal to ICAN’s claims concerning the court case, a copy of which was sent to Nairametrics, CITN clarified the following points:
- The Ruling of the Hon. Justice S. A. Onigbanjo of the 2/7/2020 in LD/3288GCM/19 did not invalidate the MOU and TOS because it did NOT address the issues in the substantive suit, itself. However, since ICAN has resiled from the MoU and ToS it freely entered with CITN, the CITN will not stop ICAN from walking away.
- The Judge only struck out the suit based on the Preliminary Objection of ICAN to the effect that the suit was an abuse of court process because the issues in it were the same as the issues in FHC/L/CS/125/2019 – ICAN VS FIRS & 1 OTHER which was earlier decided in favour of CITN. However, the issues in the two suits are completely different and distinct as has now been explicitly admitted by ICAN in its Notice under reference when it said: “The earlier ruling at the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/125/2019 did not make pronouncement on the memorandum and terms of settlement between ICAN and CITN.”ICAN having admitted that the judgment in FHC/L/CS/125/2019 did not make any pronouncement on the MOU and TOS (and this is a fact), how then could issues in that suit be the same as those in LD/3288GCM/2019 (decided by Justice Onigbanjo) which only asked for judicial pronouncement on the MOU and TOS?
- Regulation 5 of the Tax Administration (Self-Assessment) Regulations, 2011, was categorically annulled by the Hon. Justice Liman in the judgment delivered in FHC/L/CS/125/2019 on 21/11/2019. None of the lawyers to the parties (including ICAN) can deny hearing the annulment of Regulation 5 during delivery of the judgment. It is unfortunate that ICAN is jumping the gun in a case with a pending post-judgment application.
- In the judgment delivered in FHC/L/CS/1480/2018 – CHIEF IGBAROOLA & OTHERS VS FIRS & OTHERS on 21/5/2019, the Hon. Justice A. O. Faji, declared: “CITN Act is thus superior to ICAN Act on the issue of tax practice. The Self-Assessment Regulations being in conflict with the CITN Act is null and void. The Plaintiffs cannot practice as tax agents without first being members of the 2nd Defendant.”
- In the Court of Appeal judgement of 2013 between ICAN v. CITN, it was held that the power to regulate and control the tax profession, to the exclusion of any other body, in Nigeria lies with CITN.
- It is, therefore, now firmly settled from all the relevant judgements at the Lagos High Court, Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, which have all upheld the primacy of the CITN Charter, that no member of ICAN can practice taxation without first being a member of CITN.
- For the avoidance of doubt, no ICAN member, who is not registered with CITN, has been permitted by any law or court decision to practice taxation. The law has made it clear about the professional body that can regulate tax profession in Nigeria and CITN reserves the right to invoke the relevant provisions against any person that violates the provisions of its charter.
The backstory: The disagreement between ICAN and CITN dates back to 2015 following a misinterpretation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Terms of Settlement (ToS) between the two organisations. Due to the disagreement, CITN took legal actions in a bid to basically make the MoU and ToS binding on ICAN members.
UPDATED: Court rules ICAN members do not need CITN license to file tax returns
The suit, which was filed some years ago by CITN, was basically struck out for lacking merit.
Justice S. A. Onigbanjo of the High Court of Lagos State has ruled that members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) do not need to be licensed by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) before they can file tax returns.
The ruling on July 2nd followed a suit filed by CITN trying to restrain ICAN members from filing tax returns for their clients unless they have a practicing CITN license.
A notice to ICAN members regarding this development, as seen by Nairametrics, noted that Justice Onigbanjo struck out the suit after describing it as “an abuse of court process and an embarrassment to the judiciary.”
The backstory: Nairametrics understands that the disagreement between ICAN and CITN stemmed from the misinterpretation of a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Terms of Settlement (ToS) between the two organisations. Consequently, CITN had filed a suit before the High Court of Lagos State, seeking the following:
- A declaration that the Memorandum of Understanding and Terms of Service both dated February 12, 2015 between the CITN and ICAN are valid, subsisting, and binding on the CITN and ICAN.
- An injunction restraining ICAN whether by its agents, privies, assigns, or whosoever called, from repudiating, resiling from or acting in any manner or doing anything that is inconsistent with, contrary to or is a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Terms of Settlement dated February 12, 2015, between the CITN and ICAN.
- Determine whether the Memorandum of Understanding and Terms of Settlement both dated February 12, 2015 between the CITN and ICAN are valid, subsisting, and binding on CITN and the ICAN.
However, last week’s ruling by Justice S. A. Onigbanjo which, by the way, was delivered virtually due to COVID-19, has made it impossible for the CITN to implement the terms of the 2015 MoU and ToS. The ruling also aligned with ICAN’s earlier objection to the MoU and ToS.
The status quo: In view of this development, ICAN has informed its members that they do not need to obtain any license from the CITN before they can file tax returns for their clients with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.
ICAN members were also informed that an earlier ruling by the Federal High Court on the case does not affect the status quo. This is because “the earlier ruling by the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/125/2019 did not make pronouncement on the memorandum and terms of settlement between ICAN and CITN.” More so, regulation 5 of the FIRS Act was not reflected in the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court.
China more willing to restructure Africa’s debt than private creditors
Agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors.
A recent study by John Hopkins University reveals it may be easier for African Nations to raise debt and also get debt relief from China than private creditors.
The report of the study comes a day after China promised to cancel interests from loans to African nations and restructure debt to Africa. The study also revealed that China has restructured $15 billion of African debt and written off $3.4 billion in the past ten years.
After 1,000 Chinese loans, including restructured Mozambican and Republic of Congo debt, were analysed, the researchers concluded that “the agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors”.
The Paris Club recently agreed to pause debt payment valued at $11 billion for the poorest 73 nations freeing up capital to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, not all eligible nations signed up citing fears of default ratings if debt obligations are not met.
The study discovers difficulties in renegotiating terms on International Bonds for African countries due to the disparate ownership structure making private creditors unwilling to grant complete debt relief, citing warnings on rating downgrades.
China accounts for about 20% of Africa’s external debt and lent over $150 billion to the continent between 2000-2018 the study reveals. Chinese President, Xi Jinping has urged global leaders to be more pragmatic with debt suspension for Africa.
The study says much of the terms of Chinese debt to Africa has not been transparent and the relief negotiations may follow the same path.